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Colts' offer to Jerrell Freeman was not quite the same as Bears' offer

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Amidst confusion regarding Jerrell Freeman's contract and what the Colts offered him, the linebacker reached out to the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder to provide some clarity: the Colts' offer wasn't quite the same as the Bears' offer.

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Ever since Jerrell Freeman signed with the Chicago Bears on Saturday, we have been trying to make sense of the details behind it.

Freeman signed with the Bears for a three-year deal worth $12 million.  Reports soon after that suggested that the Colts offered Freeman the same deal weeks before free agency began, which led some to speculate that Freeman took the deal with the Bears to stick it to the Colts.  Freeman later said he "would have loved to stay" with the Colts, however, if the offer had been there, which seemed to contradict both the notion he wanted to stick it to the Colts and the reports that the Colts offered the same thing.  Some clarity came when reports emerged that the Colts made a "first and final" offer to Freeman weeks before free agency and, after it was turned down, the team began to move in a different direction, but it still doesn't fully explain why Freeman told Chicago reporters that the Colts didn't make an offer.

Looking to help clear up some of the confusion, Jerrell Freeman reached out to the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder to provide some details: it turns out the Colts' offer wasn't exactly identical to the one the Bears offered him.  Though the bulk of the contract Freeman signed with the Bears was the same as what the Colts offered - somewhere around $12 million over three years - the difference is that the Bears offered the potential for more money.  Freeman told Holder that his deal with the Bears also includes $2.5 million in incentives, giving him the chance to potentially earn $14.5 million from the Bears.  The incentives were something the Colts didn't include in his contract, meaning that in reality Freeman did take more money from the Bears than the Colts offered.  The incentives, according to Holder, stipulate that he can earn an additional $750,000 by playing at least 70% of the snaps over his three years in Chicago, while he can earn the additional $2.5 million by playing at least 90% of the snaps.

Freeman had been talking about how he needed to take care of himself and get paid this time, and it appears that's what he did: he simply took the better offer.  Though $2.5 million might not seem like a ton after seeing huge numbers thrown around in free agency, consider that the $2.5 million by itself would be more than Freeman earned in any of his four seasons with the Colts.  And, with the linebacker turning 30 years old this offseason, you can't blame him for trying to get every last penny out of his deal that he can.

As for his incentives, it really comes down to him staying healthy.  During his first two years with the Colts he played well over 90% of the defensive snaps, but over the last two seasons he has played less as he has missed seven games due to injury.  If he can stay healthy in Chicago, there's a decent chance of him hitting the incentives and earning the extra money, then.  Either way, the very opportunity to earn extra money is more than the Colts offered him, meaning that though the Colts' offer was very similar, it wasn't exactly the same thing.